Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How Does 'The Proposal' Bag More Nominations than 'Moon', You Ask?

One of my top 5 favourite films of 2009 was Duncan Jones' sci-fi feature Moon. A real science fiction film in an irradiated wasteland of pretenders, it includes a heartbreakingly layered performance by the (criminally underrated) Sam Rockwell who blows most 2009 awards contenders out of the water. Yet it barely shows up on any critics' lists or nomination ballots. Neil Miller from Film School Rejects talks about why. More about Duncan Jones' thoughts on the matter here.

These links via Neil Gaiman's Twitter feed. Whose word-count may soon eclipse that of the entire Sandman series.

Really though. Everyone who hasn't should go and watch Moon at the earliest convenience. It's left the theaters but there is always Netflix.

Friday, December 18, 2009


This Swedish vampire film is a solidly entertaining piece of work which, in its attempt to do something clever with the genre, brings together diverse influences ranging from Sam Raimi and old Hammer horror films to Frasier-style sitcom hi-jinks and Scream's postmodern (I know, I know) self reflexiveness. The basic concept is familiar to Steve Niles fans - a mother/daughter pair move to a Swedish town that experiences polar night (a month of darkness), the former looking to work with a genetics expert (naturally) at a local hospital. Naturally, mysterious deaths start occurring, small animals start disappearing and the geneticist turns out to be more than just a doctor, with all the goings-on possibly related to the pre-credits WWII sequence where a group of Nazi troops take shelter in a very dark cottage in the woods. After the initial killing (the guilty party's identity a little unclear), vampirism spreads rather quickly through the town's younger inhabitants.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Boy and his Dog

Before the blasted post-apocalyptic wasteland (or, at least its R-rated manifestation) became a widespread cinematic trope, there was this curious 1975 adaptation of Harlan Ellison's short story of the same name. Practically tailor-made for cult status, it follows a scraggly Don Johnson looking for sex and food (in that order) in an irradiated Southwestern USA with only his telepathically communicating dog who performs dual functions of company and walking detector of food/women.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"First, give him the Forest Whitaker eye..." the first step in the Troy Barnes system of self defense. One of many reasons to watch Community.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Baader-Meinhof Complex

Can you say 'Oscar bait'?

All right, no, that's an overly cynical take on what is a very handsomely mounted and well acted (but isn't that to be expected?) enterprise. At least it's not about children losing their toys in politically contentious regions or a dying old man finding meaning through the love of a child or one of the other child-related tropes that non-US films routinely have to trot out to get critical attention. It is, however, a disappointingly superficial examination of what is ultimately a very relevant (and AMPAS-y) subject - the motivation behind social/political dissension and the line between that and terrorism.

They're Made Out of Meat

"Meat made the machines"

With that one line of dialogue, Ben Bailey's deadpan anthropologist provides a better-than-most description of the sci-fi genre in this clever and offbeat short film. Stephen O'Regan's vaguely Lynchian movie (based on Terry Bisson's Nebula-nominated short story of the same name) suggests that the extraterrestrial reaction to discovering human life might be more Douglas Adams than Steven Spielberg. Tom Noonan is a perfect foil to Bailey as an incredulous colleague, wielding his Tooth Fairy-esque creepiness to full effect. Hilarious and philosophical in equal measures, it's well worth your eight (very) odd minutes. Thanks to my brother for passing it on.

My IMDB rating of the movie: 8/10

Friday, December 11, 2009


As I added the 1168th film to my IMDB viewing list today, it occurred to me that it might be a useful exercise to start a film diary. It's simultaneously sobering and hilarious to think back to my reactions to movie experiences past. Examining my viewing history, I had myself a giggle at the realization that ten years ago, I thought The Shawshank Redemption was the pinnacle of cinematic art and that movies could never get any better. And that eight years ago, I was so frustrated by Mulholland Drive that I recall pegging it mentally as one of the worst movies ever. Things change. I now think that Mulholland Drive is one of the best films of the oughties (it still frustrates the hell out of me, though). The Shawshank Redemption remains a watchable film but a solidly middle-of-the-road and sentimental one, prison through a sparkly golden filter, sort of like Oz written by Forrest Gump.

On the other hand, some things remain the same. I still believe the first Terminator film to be one of the most efficient, engaging and thoughtful bits of sci fi cinema ever. I remain as much of a Point Break fan as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I can still recite all of Kurtwood Smith's lines from Robocop. And my continuing assertion that The Apu Trilogy remains unbeaten in Indian cinema still lays me open to accusations of being a Bollywood-basher (a badge I wear proudly).

I watch movies regularly enough that keeping a simultaneous and sustained record might reveal certain patterns - evolutionary/devolutionary. It would also point me to holes in my movie-watching, leading me to revisit periods/filmmakers/countries I'd dismissed in some burst of misguided reflexiveness. I also find that since my 'movies watched' count increases at a rate inversely proportionate to my brain cell count, some of the images and sensations are starting to fade. I'll watch some little movie that I had strong feelings about. Then, two years down the line, I'd have a vague recollection of the title but trying to call it up, fail to remember anything more. Hopefully, keeping this diary will help on all those fronts. Not to mention further indulge the obsessive compulsive tendencies that the IMDB voting already indicates.

Given that I plan to write my entries here within a day or two of watching the film in question, they're not going to be proper 'reviews' per se. Just random thoughts and opinions. Given that I write 'proper reviews' in other places, I'll probably have expended all my writing energy elsewhere and will end up saying 'this movie is awesome' under half the entries here. So be it.

Let's see how long I keep doing this.